Kevin Miller English011 Paper 1

Kevin Miller English011 Paper 1 - 1 Cultural Pluralism in...

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1 Cultural Pluralism in Maathai’s Unbowed Only recently redefined, the term pluralism has been used over zealously to describe a type of immigration in which the individual retains his or her cultural identity while still partially assimilating into American society. A “pluralistic integration,” that occurs among immigrants, allows for a maintenance of cultural identity that otherwise would be lost while assimilating. This idealistic term, however, is used to describe a situation in which cultural identity is truly and indefinitely preserved, a situation that in reality does not exist. In the memoir of Wangari Muta Maathai entitled Unbowed , a sense of pluralism is created as the reader progresses through her story; a feeling that Maathai is attempting to define herself as a Kenyan, upholding her cultural values while still taking part in American society. Unfortunately the curtain that Maathai builds is disassembled through an analysis of the changes in her cultural identity, more specifically through changes in her social and religious beliefs. When Maathai’s assimilation is unveiled the reader is able to grasp the concept that pluralism does not exist as a way for Maathai to describe her integration into society. As seen within, Wangari Muta Maathai’s memoir, Unbowed , Maathai’s attempt at pluralistically integrating into American society is disillusioned through the Americanization of her social and religious beliefs during her time spent within the United States. Coined within the early twentieth century, the term cultural pluralism has grown and developed into a more complex view over the past hundred years. Initially pluralism was only defined within the white American culture consisting of the Eastern European immigrant and his role within American society. Examined more closely throughout the 1900’s as well as in George M. Fredrickson’s, Models of American Ethnic Relations: A Historical Perspective , the
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“multiculturalism” of the 80’s unveiled “that the differences among people who happened to differ in skin color or phenotype were the result of their varying cultural and historical experiences” that led to the existence of pluralism (Fredrickson 606). The definition of pluralism has come to define an immigrant’s transition into American Society while still holding on to the roots of his or her cultural identity. Through this outlook, America is no longer seen as a melting pot but rather an international mosaic with each person defined as both a separate culture and American simultaneously. Those who oppose this modern definition of pluralism claim that it is “an invitation to national disunity and ethnic conflict” (Fredrickson 606). Immigrants who wish
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Kevin Miller English011 Paper 1 - 1 Cultural Pluralism in...

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